Cyber Stalkers Everywhere – Part 2
The online store where you can buy almost anything with a click of a button and get it delivered straight to your home. This genius and incredibly convenient staple of the 21st Century is probably unsurprisingly owned by the richest man in the world. Amazon is huge and is only getting bigger as our hectic lifestyles force us to choose the most effortless innovations over virtually everything else. Hence Amazon Echo, which is no doubt clocking up its own factory of personal data every time someone says “Alexa”. Amazon also owns around 1.5 million servers worldwide which means they have the ability to literally stop the function of websites if they see fit. This also means that not only are they the gatekeepers to all our consumer wants and needs but also physically house the very systems our data is sent through and stored upon. This makes Amazon a very powerful company indeed.
Selling data is something that has fairly recently come to light, third party companies want to know our habits. Using the information, we subsequently leave in our wake as we browse the internet such as peak browsing times, buying habits, trends we follow as well as our favourite past times, companies can exploit this information to sell us products or even more frighteningly ideas. With Amazon rapidly becoming the worlds marketplace, its only a matter of time until our freedom as consumers is taken away and sold to the highest bidder, if it isn’t already.
The Famed Roomba
From the imaginative and colourful future of the Jetsons came an intelligent vacuum cleaner that could keep your floors clean all on its own. This science fiction device became a reality in 2002. Since then as iRobot, the company who makes them expanded on their invention they added more and more features to their new autonomous sweeper. By 2015 the Roomba had internet connectivity and an app that ran alongside it. Here is where things got strange. The latest Roombas work by mapping out the layout and obstacles of your home, keeping track of where the furniture is while staying alert via sensors. The issue that arose is that all of this data that was being mapped out was being sent back to Roomba online. Countless virtual layouts of people’s homes were being gathered in a database, which begs the question, who would want that? It may seem like a trivial thing for someone to acquire, but it just proves that no internet connected device is simply that anymore, everything is data and data is waiting to be exploited. Just for a moment imagine, a thief got hold of that information, they would know exactly how to navigate your home before they arrive.
This level of unknown tracking makes new inventions seem far more sinister than before. Take Vector by Anki, a friendly domestic robot made to befriend and assist you. But it also connects to the internet, it also wanders around your house and it also houses a wide-angle camera. Can anyone be truly confident that this tiny robot isn’t a £200 spy? Luckily for us people are beginning to make steps towards a movement, places like Stop Data Mining Me urge people and companies to leave us and our data alone. Because if it persists our future looks a lot more totalitarian than utopian.